Jessica Hennessy is the Director & Principal Advisor at advisory firm BLOOM, where she focuses on helping businesses increase their organisational effectiveness.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I spent 10, very humbling years working with Lenard’s chicken to get me through my Tafe and University studies, before making a move into the corporate arena.
After finishing my degree in Psychology, I fell into recruitment ‘by accident’, receiving a call from the Internal Recruiter of a large recruitment firm about a role that I’d applied for as an Associate Consultant.
So I put on my shiniest black heels (of which I bought for the occasion) and made the trip into the City for the assessment centre, full of ambition and a head full of research, ready to be a standout.
I absolutely tanked it. The Director who was present at the time told the recruiter I’d ‘never make it in the industry,’ and I was pretty gutted.
So I went back to the drawing board, back to retail and worked my way up to a Management position, while I took stock of what my next move might be.
A few months later, I got another call from the same Recruiter, asking me to come in and interview for a similar role, but at a different location – and hence my career in recruitment was born.
I spent the next four years working across two large firms before moving into a more boutique environment to help a smaller firm build a new Division and team from the ground up. By this point, I’d started to edge my way into hosting some Learning and Development pieces for the team, then for the business nationally.
I fell in love with building people up, helping them to feel valued and empowering them with all the tools necessary to have a successful career.
Sometime after, the Director’s parted ways, one staying with the current business and the other to start a new firm, BLACKROC. I joined BLACKROC in the months that followed as the Director of Operations, which is where I have spent the last 18 months of my career.
The business was only 6 months new at the time of my joining, so my initial MO was to help the two Directors implement some strong foundations and pillars in the business to help it scale successfully.
This was everything from new processes, procedures, compliance, people and culture, learning and development and social responsibility, to name a few. Whilst Operations took up 75% of my time, I’d also spend 25% of my time recruiting Executive and C-level roles for a good portion of new and key clients.
I was a little green to say the least, but I was on a mission to help that business scale and we did so very successfully over the years that followed, which was largely attributed to our wonderful team.
I’ve recently departed BLACKROC, having moved from internal cheerleader to proud Mum on the sidelines and am looking forward to watching that business and the people within it grow over the years to come.
I’m in the process now of launching an advisory business (watch this space) with a key focus on organisational effectiveness. Which comes by way of building strong pillars in a number of key areas such as learning and development, effective leadership strategies, talent acquisition and recruitment, employee retention and people and culture, to name a few.
Effectively, it’s about getting the inside of a business right, so the rest can take care of itself!
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Whilst at BLACKROC, no two days were ever really the same.
Given my role had many moving parts, I could be doing anything from running L&D and one on one coaching sessions for the team, or a CEO Round Table for our wider network to working with our GTC (good times committee) on a company events calendar, or working on improving our frameworks surrounding compliance or process to running a recruitment process for one of our Clients who was looking for someone in a C-suite of Executive capacity.
The fact that my role had many moving parts at BLACKROC is what I loved and what kept me energised – I do my best work when I’m stretched to the limit.
My new journey will see me parachuting into businesses in an advisory capacity to do a deep dive into their internal frameworks surrounding all of those areas I mentioned earlier.
I’ll be working on figuring out where they sit currently, to get a good understanding of where they want or need to go in order to make some improvements and create efficiencies within the business.
Once we’ve generated a roadmap, it will be about breaking down each of the key focus areas into smaller sprints with goals and outcomes that are tailored to the business, individuals and their overall growth plan.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Historically, no. Like many other businesses, my role was most impactful when it was conducted face to face. Covid was the catalyst for learning new ways of working and generating new and effective ways to get positive results for the individual, teams and the business overall.
In the new role, very much so! I’m about to start my first few weeks of advisory for a Client in a remote capacity and will move into the offices over the weeks that follow. That’s the beauty of so many tech platforms at our fingertips!
Working remotely has made me realise the difference between being ‘busy’ and being productive. It’s also done wonders for the volume of my washing basket and the quality of my (now freshly home cooked) lunches.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I love what I do, so in terms of a work – life balance as such, I’d say that I start working earlier than the good majority and work hours after the majority have checked out for the day. From my perspective, the results I provide are a statement about the passion I have for what I do.
But of course, it’s incredibly important to have opportunities to decompress and reset! In terms of how I achieve work-life balance in the general sense, it all comes down to planning ahead.
I used to be so planned that if anything popped up unexpectedly, I’d get frustrated that my day had been thrown out of whack. That approach breeds anxiety, so I had to change my mindset and the way I thought about it.
My focus then became more about adaptability. Planning ahead, but rolling with the punches. I’m also in the midst of studying my Masters in Org Psych, so my days during the week are pretty jam packed, but my early mornings are just for me.
So, I start almost every day with a gym session. If it’s at my local Bunker, I’ve got my headphones in and I’ve blocked out everything else, otherwise I’ll be at my local Fitstop, on the cusp of dying but loving every minute of it.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Going to bed an hour earlier and waking up an hour earlier. This alone, has completely changed my life. Solely for the reason that it means I’m home from the gym earlier and not rushing around like a made woman.
I can take the time to make a nice breakfast, get a coffee and be at my desk for my first meeting of the day cool, calm and collected. I always felt like I never had enough time, so I created more time for myself and it’s done wonders.
The second would be using the ‘reaction’ function when receiving text messages after 7pm. Because I spend all day on my phone, by the time it hits a certain time of night, I want to spend as little time on it as possible.
So if I receive a text, I hold my finger over the message and give it a little ‘thumbs up’ or ‘heart’ emoji. It’s a nice way of acknowledging the sender (usually friends of family) and saying ‘hey, I see you’, then getting back to them when you’ve had the chance to unwind and decompress.
Too much screen time is not good for the soul.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
- Future Women: Leadership Series
- The Mind Muscle Project
- Greatest Motivational Speeches (get this in your ears to start the day!)
- Winging It, Emma Isaacs
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
If you’re looking to improve your sleep quality, highly recommend AutoSleep or Sleep Cycle
I’ve been putting a heavy focus on my sleep in the last few months, thanks to a suggestion from a friend of mine! So while we’re on that note, I highly recommend a good sleep mask to block out the light and ‘sleepy’ from Lush!
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Rebecca Hull, Fitstop.
Karen Lawson, Executive Director at SDGx.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
There’s a few little snippets of gold I’ve learned throughout my career so far:
There’s never a ‘perfect’ time. If you’re looking to make a move, do it sooner rather than later. You’ll figure it out as you go along!
Secondly, be open to failure. Fail often and fail hard. That’s when you’ll know that you’re really stretching yourself and that’s where the growth happens. If you’re only doing things that are certain to success, then you’re only doing very obvious things.
And lastly, if you’re looking at building a brand, whether that be personal or business. It’s important that your product and/or service comes from a place of authenticity.
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